Hemolysis and Plasma Free Hemoglobin During Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation Support: From Clinical Implications to Laboratory Details

ASAIO J. 2020 Mar;66(3):239-246

Here, we propose a review dedicated to extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO)-associated hemolysis, with a particular emphasis on pathophysiology, prevalence, and clinical consequences of such complication.

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Venovenous and venoarterial extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) are lifesaving supports that are more and more frequently used in critically ill patients. Despite of major technological improvements observed during the last 20 years, ECMO-associated hemolysis is still a complication that may arise during such therapy. Hemolysis severity, directly appreciated by plasma free hemoglobin concentration, may be present with various intensity, from a nonalarming and tolerable hemolysis to a highly toxic one. Here, we propose a review dedicated to extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO)-associated hemolysis, with a particular emphasis on pathophysiology, prevalence, and clinical consequences of such complication. We also focus on laboratory assessment of hemolysis and on the limits that have to be known by clinicians to prevent and manage hemolytic events.